Taliban ready for talks if troops removed from Pak northwest'

Taliban ready for talks if troops removed from Pak northwest'

The Taliban's condition for talks was conveyed by unnamed militant leaders to 'The News' daily.

The militants said their leadership would hold negotiations on one point – "complete withdrawal" of troops from all parts of the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and the tribal areas.

"Taliban do not want to see Pakistan weak but the government's steps always negate our stance because of which the leadership of the Taliban is left with no option but to take steps for their defence," said one of the Taliban leaders who was contacted by the newspaper for comments on Zardari's statement.
This Taliban leader did not "advance any explicit argument in support of suicide attacks in Pakistan," the report said.

The daily quoted another source among the militants as saying that all militant groups in Pakistan, which are "almost united at the moment," are considering Zardari's comments as their victory.

He said the militant leadership in the tribal areas, where security forces are currently conducting operations, feel that perhaps security forces are "finding a safe exit for themselves" because of which Zardari made such a statement.
Zardari, who is currently on a visit to Britain, told the media that his government had never closed the door for talks with the Taliban.

"We never closed the dialogue," Zardari said, skirting the question as to when talks could actually resume. "We had an agreement, which they (the Taliban) broke. (Talks will resume) whenever they feel we're strong enough and they can't win, because they won't win. It will be a painful difficult task, but defeat is not an option for us," Zardari said.

Military sources were quoted by The News as saying that security forces or their leadership would never hold talks with terrorist elements operating in the garb of Taliban or with any other identity.

They said the stance of the security forces is very explicit that talks can only be held with those who lay down arms and surrender to the authorities.
Former ISI chief Hameed Gul said the Taliban were "our own people and have been wrongly playing in the hands of the enemies."
He said they "should be beaten up but the doors of talks should never be closed."
"Even if direct talks are not held, the 'jirga' (council) system should be activated and involved. There is no harm in it," Gul said.

He was of the opinion that the army, through its successful strategy, has extremely weakened the Taliban and now the government has the upper hand.
"The army has enabled the government to have an upper hand. Therefore, it is the time that if talks are held with them (militants), of course the suicide attacks in Pakistan can be stopped," he said.Taliban ready for talks if troops removed from Pak northwest'

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